A White Paper on the bill confirming respect for the principles of the Republic

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Experts question the 1905 Law and make proposals

HRWF/ Bitter Winter (11.01.2021) — While the bill Consolidating Respect for the Principles of the Republic (former bill on separatism) is currently being examined by a special committee of the French National Assembly, three renowned experts have just published a white paper entitled Laïcité, How to Preserve it.

To do this, the authors undertook a meticulous research in the history of secularism, examined the parliamentary debates of 1905, case law and doctrine, while contextualizing everything in order to fully understand what this law had first of all changed after almost a centenary of the Napoleonic Concordat, and how "case law on the subject has struggled to evolve while the French religious landscape has changed considerably since the promulgation of the law of 1905."

For the authors, “The government, by wishing to strongly encourage associations of law 1901[1] (mainly Muslim, but not only) to join the regime of religious associations of law 1905, crosses an additional level in the state control of religions (...) Unfortunately, it's a safe bet that this harmonization of constraints, whatever the mode of exercise freely chosen, will not be enough to cause a real change of paradigm and to encourage associations under the 1901 law to join the regime of the 1905 law.” They join in this the fears of representatives of religions heard on January 4 by the special committee responsible for examining the bill.

The authors, the jurist Frédéric Jérôme Pansier, author of more than 50 reference works in the field of law, the sociologist of religions Massimo Introvigne, author of more than 70 books and Willy Fautre, President of the NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers International, advocate in this forty-page document an approach that preserves the spirit of the 1905 law, while modernizing it to adapt it to the current religious reality in France.

The document ends with a final conclusion: "in order for the reform to achieve its goals, it is necessary to ensure that the spirit of freedom of the law of 1905 is preserved, and that the great majority of religions which do not represent a terrorist threat, do not provoke hatred or violence, can not only have access to the advantages of the status of religious association, but also that this access is facilitated, encouraged and attractive."


[1] ⬆︎ 1 The Law of Associations (1901) suppressed nearly all of the religious orders in France and confiscated their property, and the separation law (1905) sundered church and state,

The White Paper is available at: https://hrwf.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/livre-blanc-laicite-comment-la-preserver.pdf

Source: HRWF

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